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Experiencing the First Year of a Baby’s Life Using Naturalistic Observation Within a Case Study

By: Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study explores my journey as a researcher undertaking Naturalistic Observation for the first time. Naturalistic Observation as a research method is non-participant and was first introduced in 1948 by Esther Bick to the training of child psychotherapists at the Tavistock Clinic. It is a challenging method in that it requires the researcher to enter the field without any hypothesis, preconceived ideas, or expectations. The research subject in this study was a baby (Liam) whose name has been changed and whose development I observed from birth to 2 years. In this case, I present moments of the first year of observations which has formed part of my exploration of the study of human development. Even at the initial stage, there were difficulties in identifying a research subject, for there must be no relational link between the observer and the family. It is a very lonely and emotional road, along which the researcher is expected to travel without any of the natural human interactions one might expect in such a situation. There is always a wall required between the family and the observer and yet an intimate relationship does develop simply through the shared observation of the baby and the home environment within which this takes place. In this short article, I examine the challenges and benefits of using Naturalistic Observation through a case study, with perhaps the greatest benefit being the opportunity to understanding in some depth what it is to be human.

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